Our activities of daily living challenge the integrity of our bodies in countless ways. Couple this routine with years of living and we lose the ability to perform the functions we used to do with vigor and ease. Bones break easily, skin resiliency turns poor and as wrinkles imprint themselves in our faces, we begin to lose the youth in our eyes. Aging, then, becomes apparent.
But why do we age? Science has more than 40 theories in aging to explain the phenomenon. Most account it to a result of genetics, oxidative stress, and cellular changes. While it is difficult to adapt to slowing pace, blunting memory, and changing appearance, we can achieve healthy aging when we know how to approach it holistically.
Here are some ways how you can do just that:
Protect the Skin You’re In
It is in the skin where obvious changes reign. It is drier, less elastic, and more fragile. There is loss of muscle tone and subcutaneous fats making aging people more prone to skin tears, sagging skin, and wrinkling.
To achieve youthful appearance, skin care includes adequate hydration, optimal nutrition, and use of emollient lotions after shower. Frequency of bathing may be adjusted to prevent skin breakage. Avoiding sun damage is also imperative by using sun-screening lotions and wearing hats or glasses. Lastly, any skin changes (e.g. change in color and size of moles) must be observed and reported.
Eat Right and Feel Good
Gastric motility and intestinal absorption decrease during aging. These lead to nutritional deficiencies and defecation problems (e.g. constipation). A low-calorie and well balanced diet is recommended to accommodate lower metabolic rate and decreased activity. Vitamin D and calcium supplements must also be taken to prevent osteoporosis. High cholesterol and fat intake may lead to cardiovascular diseases.
Stay Light and Active
Arteries are less elastic and blood flow to the body is diminished for aging people. Poor circulation also means poor oxygen and nutrient transport to the peripheries. Therefore, performing a 30-minute moderate physical activity 3 times a week is recommended. Exercise promotes good circulation and prevents obesity. Do not forget to take rest periods as the aging heart can only take so much of activity.
Do Perception and Cognition Check
Perception is defined as the ability to interpret environment. This ability depends on the overall functioning of senses. As people age, this ability decreases together with the ability to react appropriately. On the other hand, cognitive ability’s problem lies on speed and not the ability, unless some pathology are present like dementia. Judgment, intellect, and problem solving are normally intact.
A regular check-up can help to monitor health of senses. Mental activity like social interactions and puzzles reinforce cognitive function retention.
Make Memories Last
Retrieval of information is a challenge for aging people. This can interfere with their ability to learn new skills. To improve memory, lists and aids can be used. Objects must be placed in consistent locations. Also, one strong helping factor is motivation.
Know Common Health Problems
To facilitate safety, aging people and support system must know what these people are predisposed to as consequences of aging. Some include Alzheimer’s, fractures, and chronic disabling illnesses like arthritis, osteoporosis, and stroke. Be vigilant with changes occurring to promote prompt intervention.
While aging is normal and expected, people experiencing the “graying” of their lives find it difficult to deal with aging because of ageism and myths. However, with adequate support system, motivation, and holistic approach, an aging person will feel at peace and never incapable or non-functional.